Blog

Writing

It’s The One-Room Schoolhouse’s Fault

Blog Title It's the One-room Schoolhouse's Fault with pick of prairie flowers and a one-room schoolhouse by Denise M. Colby

I have this thing for historical one-room schoolhouses. I don’t know why. They are cute, inviting and have history that is yearning to be told. Ever since I visited the one-room schoolhouse in old town Sacramento during my oldest son’s 4th grade Sacramento trip, I have wanted to write a story about one. 

  • How specific some of the rules were.
  • How students were separated with boys on one side, girls on the other.
  • How each student had to stand at the side of their desk to speak.
  • How lashings were given for the most interesting infringements.
  • How a female teacher had different rules than a male teacher.
  • How for some of these students, it was the only education they would ever receive.
  • How children of all ages were taught in the same room.
  • How one measly stove in the center of the room provided heat.
  • How lunch was carried in a bucket.
Quote from Blog by Denise M. Colby - Maybe it's the influence of Little House on the Prairie, but i find the history of the one-room schoolhouse a little romantic

Maybe it’s the influence of Little House on the Prairie, but I find the history of the one-room schoolhouse a little romantic. And so, when I went on the same trip with my second son two years later, the same curiousness came back, a few characters formed in my head, and a story screamed at me to write it. 

So I did. 

My story is about a town across the river from Sacramento that has a brand new schoolhouse. This schoolhouse seems to want to match-make for its teachers. Their first teacher got married before she set foot in it. The next one, my heroine Olivia, wants to remain a teacher her whole life. But God, the one-room schoolhouse, and Bert the rooster, all have a different plan for her.

It will be interesting to see how long she lasts, and who else might come to teach at this match-making one-room schoolhouse.

Quote from Blog by Denise M. Colby - Who else might come to teach at my match-making one-room schoolhouse

To find out more about the story I’m writing, go to the Going West Series page in the books section of my website. Or if you’d like to see the photos of one-room schoolhouses I’ve posted go here.

Writing

When “The Plan” Does Not Go According to Plan

Blog Title on wooden fence background by Denise M. Colby When the plan does not go according to plan

I think this title says it all! When “The Plan” does not go according to plan. Have you ever felt this way? I have. I’m a planner at heart, so I run into this, A Lot! So here’s my story right now.

I have had many “plans” over the past year for my website, my blog, and my writing and most of it has NOT gone according to plan.

  • I had plans to update my website
  • I had plans to have more blog posts each month
  • I had plans to have my newsletter completed and emailed out to a list of willing readers

Don’t get me wrong. I still have those plans. And that’s the thing. For me, right now, it’s not necessarily the plans I wrote down, but the timing of those plans that changed. And honestly, I’m okay with that. Now. But I wasn’t at the time. I’ve been frustrated with myself for not being able to get them done when I wanted to get them done.

Recently, I have realized that those were “my plans” and in hindsight, I can now see the way things have unfolded may not have been my plan, but very much “God’s Plan” for me.

Recently, I have realized that those were “My Plans”.

Denise M. colby

Several reasons, that I only can see now, include all the other “things” that needed to fall into place before I got to the things on my list. (And also the fact that I had too much on my plate, and my health and my family needed to come first.) For a long time I couldn’t see that. But now…

That’s what hindsight is all about

Something we can learn from.

So, what’s the lesson?

Something I’m still learning (and will continue to do so because it is one of the hardest things for me to do) is to let go and trust God when things don’t go the way I want them to.

Let go and let God be in charge, quote by Denise M. Colby with old wooden fence background

Ironically, this is actually one of the themes in my book I’m working on. We all make plans. And we think we are on the right track with those plans. But we sometimes run into road blocks or challenges that prevent us from making progress or change the outcome of some of those plans.

That’s what my heroine, Olivia, runs into over and over.

She has a lot of stuff happen to her. So much so, she has to let go of her past and reinvent herself and plan out a new future. And she’s doing it all without any help from God. At least, that’s what she believes.

But just like in our own lives, God is behind the scenes orchestrating something so much bigger and beautiful for Olivia. Something she would never be able to do on her own.

Sometimes we have to learn to get out of the way and trust God. We may not know what the future holds but by trusting in Him we can have faith to take things one day at a time and know we are where He wants us to be at that moment.

God's way of going about it is so much better than our own, quote by Denise M. Colby, text over wooden fence background

Sure it’s good to have goals and plans of the things we want to work toward. I think that part is important. But I also think that sometimes God’s way of going about it is so much better than our own.

And we don’t know that until our plans have to change

So here I am, many many many months later finally posting a blog post. And I have plans. Big plans. To write more. To post more. And to share with you more. Words of encouragement to help inspire and give you hope. Words of enrichment to learn new things. And words that we can engage in so that we can support, uplift and show love to one another.

If you are interested in signing up for my nonexistent newsletter to receive in the near future (hopefully) go here to sign up. You will receive a free poem I wrote, titled When God Calls, Go.

And for the novel I’m still editing? It has had several different titles over the past few years all related to plans changing, so I’ll leave you with a few verses from the Bible on the topic:

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29: 11 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

Hebrews 10:36 36

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 text on background

I am part of a writers blog called A Slice Of Orange. I have been writing blog posts monthly now for over a year. My particular blog posts on the 12th of every month. You can find links to those posts here, or for all my archived posts click here. In my August post, I wrote about real life turning points and how big ones have impacted me this year. The topic dives into the “why” my plans didn’t quite happen the way I planned and a first-hand view as to what plans are emerging now. It’s titled Tracking Real Life Turning Points

Books

Writing Words That Encourage, Enrich, and Engage

Denise M. Colby writes about The Purpose of Words in her blog post Writing Words that Encourage, Enrich, and Engage on denisemcolby.com

A part of this post was first posted on the Sliceoforange.net blog on April 12, 2018 (The Purpose of Words)

I love quotes, phrases, and how words are used to communicate. It’s fitting that at dictionary.com, the verb ‘word’ is defined as: to choose and use particular words in order to say or write something. 

Yes, as writers that is what we do. We have a lot to say and we choose our words for a reason.

I’m always amazed at how people put together their words the way they do. Many times, in my head I find I articulate well. But when I write the words down, they don’t always sound the same way they did in my head. Does anyone else struggle with this? I’m thinking I’m not the only one. Or so I hope. But, I digress.

This post is about words. 

Definitions. Synonyms. Words by themselves. Words strung together. I love words. Go figure that Words of Affirmation is my love language (if you don’t know what that means — check out the book Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Interesting insight into why and how people show love differently) and that I got my BA in Communications.

Words are a curious thing. How you say them, spell them, and use them can change what they mean. We have rules for these words and we take classes our entire school career to learn what those rules are. And yet, there’s still a variety of ways people string words together.

What makes us each use words differently? 

I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon. Diary’s and journals have been around since the beginning of time. But most of those private musings never saw the light of day. However, with the internet explosion and the plethora of blogs out there, not to mention the ease of self-publishing, anyone can express themselves however they want and post it for others to read. 

Some writers use big words that I have to mull over and think about before I can continue on, while others write in a way young kids can follow. Some use clever prose, others are straightforward. Some write very long sentences, while others write less. All. The. Time. I find I enjoy reading it all. 

There are several types of books out there that play with words. 

One book series titled, Short & Sweet, is a compilation of one page poems and stories all written in one syllable words. Each book has had a different theme.

Denise M. Colby's Poem Titled, "When God Calls", is on page 77 In this book, The Short and Sweet of It

I submitted a piece titled “When God Calls” to the third compilation, titled The Short & Sweet of It. When the Right Word is a Short Word. 

The focus of this compilation were things that matter deeply to the authors and my piece is based on the Bible verse Matthew 11:28-30 —“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I wrote a short poem from my heart and I couldn’t be more excited as it’s my first published work. 

The book launched in April 2018, and my piece is on page 77. It’s being sold on Amazonand Barnes and Noble .

Besides one syllable word books, there are more specialized books on words. If you are anything like me, you own more than one dictionary and thesaurus. At used book stores I like to look for unique and different types of dictionaries to use for references. Recently I learned about a new word. You may have heard it before, but it’s new to me. It’s called ‘Etymology’. At first I thought it was about body parts or an animal species. It’s not! 

Etymology: the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. 

Isn’t that awesome?!

Apparently, this has been a thing for quite some time. I looked on Amazon and there are numerous books on the subject (some of which are now on my wish list). As I researched further on the internet, I found a website dedicated to the topic, https://www.etymonline.com/

For those of us who write historical, this might give us an entire new source of understanding how or why a character would use a word. My favorite part in the few words I tried out, is the listing of slang words. 

For instance, I looked up the word farm. Besides an overview on the definition it lists two slang phrases:

Fetch the farm: prisoner slang for “get sent to the infirmary” 

Buy the farm: world war II slang for “die in battle”.

Now, if I was writing a World War II piece or a Civil War piece, I might use one of these. But alas, I’m not. But, the next time I’m looking for a something more on a word, I’ll use this as a resource and see where it leads. 

All in all, words are wonderful. 

Especially when we use them to communicate to others. Whether it’s in a private letter, an article, a novel or a blog post, words are put together to read and enjoy.

Just like you read and enjoyed this post, right?

Blessings,

Denise

A blog update from Denise M. Colby dated September 17, 2018
General, Writing Journey

An Update From Me

A blog update from Denise M. Colby dated September 17, 2018It’s been a while since I’ve written for my own blog.

Life is always busy in my household with three teenage boys and all their activities so I’ve been focusing on more simpler posts such as the First Line Fridays and on writing magazine articles and a monthly blog over at A Slice of Orange.

I jumped into the First Line Fridays scene at the beginning of the year and enjoyed sharing and commenting on all sorts of books—some old favorites and some new here on my blog. You can check them all out here or the latest one here.

I was looking forward to the summer

and hopefully a slower schedule with more time to write, but that didn’t happen.  I started the summer with a wonderful conference.  SoCal Christian Writers Conference was held June 21-23 at Biola University and it was wonderful to learn and be filled with encouragement and writing ideas.  I came back with a long list of things I wanted to do to pursue this writing career.  And then the week I got back I got a call about my mom not doing well and left to go spend an unknown amount of time with her and my sisters.

When my mother passed away in early July, I found it challenging to sit still and write. 

So even though I met my obligations to others (magazine articles and blog post), I took a break mentally from my own expectations. It was a good move for me to regroup and give myself some grace. And my list from the conference has sat there waiting patiently for me to get back to it.

But even during all that time off, ideas kept brewing in my mind.

It seems a writers mind never stops working….oh the joys of being a writer.

So now, the kids are back in school. We had a beautiful Celebration of Life for my mom over labor day weekend and I’ve gotten a handle on the laundry and the cleaning (for now). So I’m working on my routine again.

So here’s an update:

I’m editing my novel. Still. The main draft is done, but learning about all the layers that go into a novel – plot, grammar, correct point of view, balance between dialogue, narration, and action. That takes time. For me…since it’s in between being a wife, mom and daughter as well as any outside paid jobs…it’s taken a lot of time.

But I feel like it’s been worth the time. All the online classes and monthly workshops, I believe it has been good to not rush through the editing process. I have learned much and am excited to put all that learning into practice. I’m excited to be moving forward again.

I appreciate all the support everyone has given me. 

I’ve enjoyed the friendships I have made along this journey. And a journey it is! I look forward to connecting more with you, my dear friends and hopefully have more for you in the near future.

Blessings,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 6.15.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from a novella in a collection titled:

With This Ring – A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone AwryFirst Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, With This Ring Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

The second novella in the collection is

Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

This cow would cross the river even if it killed her.

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

Writing Journey

Why the M?

Why do I use an M in my name?

When I decided to create a webpage and wanted the domain for just my first and last name, but there was another author with the same name.  Even though it had been a while since she published, the genre was too close, and I didn’t want there to be any confusion.  I also found out that particular domain was taken by a health fitness person.

I knew I wanted to use Denise Colby but I needed to differentiate myself

So, I had a decision to make

My middle name actually starts with a C, but I didn’t like two C’s next to each other in my author name, so I decided to go with M – which is the first letter in my maiden name.

When someone types in Denise M. Colby; my website, blog posts and social media appears in the search, which means I’ve done something right in being consistent with using that name.  When I typed in Denise Colby, I did not appear in anything, also because of the above statement.

I wondered, then, how difficult would it be to have something appear in a search using only Denise Colby.  To do so, would mean I would need to use Denise Colby in the alt text of photos, as well as in a post (did you know the internet indexes even the headers you choose? I’m covering that in a separate post).

So to test this theory, I decided to write a post using some specific SEO techniques.

File Names for Images: 

I uploaded the same photo with different file names.  It turns out that the file name cannot change when you upload it and that name becomes public record – even if you change the title later.  (I’m still trying to figure out what the title line is for, then).

Testing out Alt Text:

I also typed out the alt text differently with each photo.  The first one has Denise M. Colby and second one has Denise Colby in the Alt Text.

Caption & Description:

I also filled out the Caption and the Description on each photo as I’ve read that those sections can be indexed as well.  I added more text to the captions within this post, but it doesn’t back feed into the media files.  Not sure yet if that makes a difference or not.

Using Different Size Subheads With My Content:

Recently I read using the built-in subheads (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) gets indexed into metadata as well, so I wanted to test that theory in this post.  That is why I have the words Denise Colby in the first subhead above. And why I’m writing this line next:

I decided to use Denise M. Colby instead of Denise Colby

Denise M. Colby Bible Verse Psalm 136 with Steadfast in it word of year 2018
File Name is Psalm136 with Denise M. Colby in the Alt Text

Denise Colby Bible Verse Psalm 136 with Steadfast in it word of year 2018
File Name is IMG_3829-copy with Denise Colby in the Alt Text

Each of these pictures are linked to the media file on my website.  The media file pulls from the original file name used when uploading the picture.  So if you were to save either of these, they would have the original file name that I uploaded it with.

I’m going to resist creating an image header for this post, although I believe if I added one using the file names and alt text with the same data would help with what I’m trying to test.  I might add another post similar to this one later on just to learn more.

So, thanks for following my ramblings as I test out my own theory and knowledge related to SEO techniques and website posts.  And now you know why I use the M. in my name.

Blessings,

Denise M. Colby, also known as Denise Colby

 

 

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 6.8.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from a novella in a collection titled:

With This Ring – A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry  First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, With This Ring Collection of Proposals Gone Awry

The first novella in the collection:

The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

Freestone County, Texas   

Spring 1892

Absorbed in the book she held, Marietta Hawkins nibbled on her lower lip and burrowed more deeply into the hay piled near the loft window.

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 6.1.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from another Love Finds You… book.  I’m continuing my recent theme! 

Love Finds You in Groom, Texas

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, Love Finds You in Groom, Texas by Janice Hannaby Janice Hanna

 

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

Amarillo, Texas, 1914

“How does it feel being the last single fella in town?”

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays 5.25.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pick up any nearby book and share a line in the comments below.

Today’s first line comes from another Love Finds You… book.  I’m continuing my recent theme! 

Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana

First Line Fridays by Denise M. Colby, Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana by Tricia Goyer & Ocieanna Fleissby Tricia Goyer & Ocieanna Fleiss

 

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

 

“Feels like I’m sleeping in a covered wagon with all this shaking.” Nineteen-year-old Julia Cavanaugh forced her eyes open.

 

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise

First Line Fridays on Denise M. Colby Blog Featured Image
First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays – 5.11.18

It’s First Line Friday time.  Pulling again from treasures read a while ago, today’s first line comes from another Love Finds You… book.  I thought I would do them all in a row!

Love Finds You in Hope, Kansas by Pamela Griffin

Book Cover Love Finds You in Hope, Kansas by Pamela Griffin - First Line Fridays Denise M. Colby Blog Post

I have read several from this line and being the history/geography lover that I am, have found these real town names and fiction stories fun.

So here’s the first line.  Drumroll please…….

Hope, Kansas

Midsummer 1889

“Don’t just stand there with your mouth hangin’ open like a fish. Do you want a new ma or don’t you?” Andy directed the tense question to their little sister, Maggie, who hovered outside the stable door in clear indecision about whether to join them.

In return, I hope you will share the first line from any book you choose in the comments below.  And then head on over to:

First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books Button

Happy Reading,

Denise